U.S. National Mango Board rallies support for global forum proposal

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U.S. National Mango Board rallies support for global forum proposal

In late November, South African Mango Growers Association (SAMGA) industry affairs manager Rudolf Badenhorst put out a global call for change in the mango industry. He said there was still a 'lack of initiative' in getting export data together from producing countries, but players all along the supply chain could learn from the success of the avocado industry through an international working group . As the largest promoter of mango consumption in North America, the U.S. National Mango Board (NMB) has embraced Badenhorst's bold proposition. Executive director William Watson tells www.freshfruitportal.com there is no reason why it shouldn't work.

Watson is looking forward to Fruit Logistica on Feb. 8 in Berlin, where he hopes to meet Badenhorst in person.

"If you look at what Rudolf is putting together, it’s no small feat, and that combined with what we’ve been doing in the U.S. to get consumers buying more mangoes, I would say the future looks very promising," he says.

"It's been interesting to see such a strong response from industries in different countries that are interested, and by the time we're in Berlin I think we’ll have a better idea of who’s putting what together, who the partners are, and finally how we are going to execute it and share information.

"Anything that means you can collect information and share it with the industry can only be a good thing, while in terms of feasibility I'm not sure - it’s great that the avocado industry can be used for us as a benchmark. I don’t see why it couldn’t be done."

He points out NMB does have crop reports but there is always room for improvement and input from more countries.

"On our crop reports we deal with fresh mangoes from Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and Haiti, but I'd also love to see volumes from Australia, India, Pakistan, from all around the world.

"It would be interesting too if we could have not just fresh but the processed volumes too, as well as how the processed  market  affects the fresh market and vice versa."

The U.S. mango consumer

International Mango Organization (IMO) executive director Will Cavan also responded well to Badenhorst's idea, but said the industry needed to include cultivar profitability determination as one of its goals.

Watson says the time has not yet come for this kind of analysis, but there have been consumer expectation studies about mango preferences.

"Consumers shopping in the United States don’t know the different varieties of mangoes - we're trying to get people to eat a mango instead of a candy bar, so we don’t want to invest industry resources to get information on the different varieties at this point, as the market is not educated enough about those," he says.

William Watson

"When it comes to the different varieties it should be consumer demand driven. I know it can be the other way around as demand is based on what consumers see in the market place, but we do have some pretty interesting consumer data about what consumers expect from mangoes.

"In the first place, consumers don’t know enough about varieties and what they’re looking for in mangoes is color, particularly red. Tommy Atkins are good mangoes, but a lot of other mangoes don’t have that red color, like Ataulfos and Keitts. There’s also the issue that a lot of consumers feel they don’t know how to select mangoes properly as it’s not something they’re familiar with."

He encourages marketers to convey the joy of a mango-eating experience and why it means so much to the fruit's fanatics.

"When I speak to people who love mangoes what they usually say is that you’ve got to eat it over the sink, as if you’re going to eat it and really enjoy the experience it’s going to be messy, and I like that because it shows there are people with a real passion for the fruit."

The rise of South Asia

He says the diversity of different mango-producing cultures could also have a part to play in the industry's success, and would like the working group to also look at ways to incorporate the eating habits of different regions.

He says that while India is still sorting out some issues with distribution, it has shipped around 100,000 boxes of mangoes to the U.S. in the last four years and could have a lot to offer in the future.

"The most interesting thing about Indian mango production is that they have a real passion.  Mangoes are obviously from India, so they bring the passion, the knowledge and the culture from their experience.

"If India can sell more mangoes to the U.S., it’s better for their neighbour Pakistan, and then countries like Mexico and Brazil who ship to the U.S."

He highlights Pakistan's entry into the U.S. market as a positive, albeit in small volumes for now, but at the end of the day the end goal is for international players to work together to boost consumption with a good product.

"I don't think they've [Pakistan] had enough volumes yet to be on the radar, but it’s a positive. It’s exciting that Pakistan has this opportunity and hopefully if they have any kinks in the system they can work them out," he says.

"When a consumer tries a mango for the first time, we don’t care where it’s from, we just want the consumer to be choosing it over an apple or a pear."

Week 50 statistics

The NMB says 654,720 boxes of mangoes arrived were shipped to the U.S. in week 50 (Dec.15), representing a 26.2% fall on the previous week.

The report pointed to falling average prices for the Tommy Atkins variety in U.S. ports during the period, with prices falling by 8.5% in Southern California, 5% in South Florida and 3.7% in Philadelphia.

The NMB expects Ecuador will ship 528,000 boxes and 370,901 boxes in weeks 51 and 52 respectively.

Meanwhile, Peru's export season to the U.S. was set to start mid-December, with 5.4 million boxes forecast for the season until the last week of March.

Related stories: South Africa calls for improved global mango export data

Pakistani mango growers smell sweet taste of export success

Peru expects three mango plant approvals this week

Kenyan govt to open mango processing plant in 2012


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